The trick to getting the shot for “Taking a Walk Through American History” was getting as much of both the pedestrians-walking sign and the Confederate Monument in the distance into the photograph as possible. It was difficult because the monument, in Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, was to the west and the sign was facing traffic going north on Drayton Street. A ladder might have come in handy but I didn't have one.
The street sign combined with the aging distant monument aligned beside it struck me as a powerful symbol of the division some American communities are experiencing over how to handle controversy involving Confederate symbols, often associated with advocacy for white supremacy, in public spaces. Some city administrators have dealt with the issue by placing the statues and similar representations in museums, which preserves the items and the history they represent. Other administrators have hidden them completely. Some citizens (like certain folks recently in North Carolina) have torn them down and tried to destroy them.
The monument seen here stands where Civil War camps were once located, so the historian in me would like to see it modified to tell a larger story rather than completely demolished. In an article titled "Re-Envisioning the Confederate Monument as a Portrait of Diversity," I suggested Savannahians consider adding several diverse figures to the structure. It could then be re-designated as a historical marker illustrating the different stakes and values for which people were fighting during the American Civil War. The primary theme would be a unified America rather than a self-destructing confederacy. Visitors would see in it, hopefully, a more comprehensive narrative on American history as opposed to one biased version of it.
© August 2018
Flowers and Wings for Her Years and Tears was almost titled Roses and Wings for Caring and Giving because of the subject which inspired it. Elderly matriarchs in most large southern families in America have traditionally been taken care of by younger female relatives when the time for such attentiveness came. The situation was different in the case of this family portrait. The matriarch seen seated in the lower left corner was looked after by an adult son, standing behind her.
More and more people around the world are coping with the issue of caring for the elderly as different countries' populations age. Depending on the culture, some see the challenge as a burden while others view it as a blessing or ennobling responsibility.
The flowers in this instance represent an accumulation of the woman's grace over the years and also the gifts of wisdom and patience that make caring for each other possible. On the woman's dress is a glowing winged figure carrying a yellow rose but the figure itself appears empty on the inside. This emptiness is symbolic of the loneliness from which many elders (and Millennials for that matter) tend to suffer on our planet even though we number in the billions with individual mega-cities containing populations of more than 15 million. Moving toward the woman to help alleviate the pain of loneliness is another winged figure bearing light and carrying a rose to fill the painful hollow void. The caregiver benefits as much from this exchange of beauty and intentional compassion as the one receiving care.
I wanted a frame for this print that would function as an extension of the artistic theme and of the portrait itself, so worked to construct one of gold-embossed flowers to do exactly that. Felt humbled by the surprising results.
Providers of some friendly feedback regarding the first two posters in my Official Dare to Love Yourself Series suggested that, for their specific tastes, the images were "pretty but kind'a tame." I heard them well enough and for this third edition in the series kept the basic visual formula while upping the ante on the color-impact factor. The rationale behind critiques seemed to center on the idea that love in all its forms should exhibit energetic sustainability. (Honestly not sure what was meant by that but giving it my best shot.)
I have posted about the origins of this quote here at Fine Art America, my Bright Skylark Literary Productions website, and on different social media. It has been famously tweeted by folks like David Bowie's widow Iman, and actor and rapper LL Cool J. For those who missed previous posts, here is a little background info taken from my book, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow:
"It came from the poem 'Angel of Healing: for the Living, the Dying, and the Praying.' A kind of rainbow-striped light bulb went off in my head as I noted the poem was part of the original Songs of the Angelic Gaze series written in 2006 during what I have come to call the summer of the angels...That particular haiku stanza [Dare to love yourself/ as if you were a rainbow/ with gold at both ends.], I had hoped, would speak some faith into the hearts of the 33,300 young, old, and in-between cross-cultural individuals in the United States alone on their way to committing suicide; and to the 20 million, according to the World Health Organization, throughout the Global Village who attempted suicide every year.
"Whether naïve on my part or not, it seemed worth taking the time to try to convince others that their lives possessed beauty and meaning worth preserving and honoring. I had hoped too that these lines might help persuade those silently combusting inside suppressed rage and muted disappointments to express their painful frustration in ways other than mass murder. If they could recognize and celebrate value within themselves, then perhaps they could allow the same in regard to those upon whom they projected their own self-loathing and sense of worthlessness." (from Journey through the Power of the Rainbow)
© July 2018
The current celebration of the 10th anniversary of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love, continues this week with the posting of two new print images: Portrait of the Poet as an Angel Drunk on Love, and, Black When Haitians Were Heroes in America (first in a series of 4).
The beautiful irony of this part of the celebration is that for the original ELEMENTAL book and museum project sponsored by the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, my contribution consisted of poetry and essays. For this 10th anniversary celebration, following the passing in 2016 of my co-creator, Luther E. Vann, on the original work, I am now producing visual and literary art.
In addition to commemorating the anniversary of ELEMENTAL, I like to think the new images on Fine Art America also pay some small tribute to the creative vision manifested in Vann's work. That would, in addition, mean acknowledging the exemplary labors of such Harlem Renaissance artists as Romare Bearden and Beauford Delaney.
You can check out both new images by clicking on the link. The extended descriptions of each can give you some idea of what inspired the titles and creation of the images themselves.
May 11th, 2018
I have received a lot of encouragement from the great community at Fine Art America since joining a couple of months ago and today was notified about my first sale. It is for of a pack of Official Chromatic Poetics greeting cards titled “Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge The Morning After Hurricane Matthew No. 2.”
Have to admit to being very moved by the sale of this particular image because the black and white composition was inspired by the work of my late great friend photographer Jack Leigh.
With hurricane season now fully upon us, this particular image along with the artwork titled “The Hurricane and the Confederate Monuments” make good reminders to plan ahead for possible catastrophic weather conditions. The link is to the Talmadge Bridge image that sold.
Award-winning author and artist acclaimed for works in multiple creative genres.